Remembering Pearl Harbor

PLYMOUTH – For the first time, the Ladewig- Zinkgraf American Legion Post 243 held their Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony without Pearl Harbor survivor Stuart “Bud” Sweeney Thursday – but it was still no less emotional.

A standing-room-only crowd at the Legion Hall heard Lana Theobald and Lynn Richter share stories from their late father, Lawrence Peterson, who was on board the destroyer USS West Virginia on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base.

Hal Seider of the Higby-Oland American Legion Post 345 in Hingham gave a talk on the attack and some interesting facts about it.

“Our poor grandmother had all three of her sons at Pearl Harbor,” Theobald explained, noting that her father and two uncles all enlisted prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.

Peterson was below decks on the West Virginia when the call to man stations came after the first wave of Japanese attacks began.

“When he got to his turret he could see the Oklahoma capsizing and right after that they were told to abandon ship,” Theobald related. “He said it was horrible swimming, there were bodies, fire and gasoline all around them.”

Peterson was making his way up a ladder out of the water when he became frustrated with the man in front of him climbing slowly and hollered at him to “Move it, sailor,” only to have him turn around and prove to be one of his brothers.

“My dad did not talk about any of his experiences when we were young,” Theobald said. It was only when his grandchildren entered the service that he opened up and his family recorded his story.

Sweeney, who was stationed at Wheeler Air Field on Oahu when Pearl Harbor was attacked, had been a regular part of past ceremonies. He passed away last January, but he was remembered with a photo display and a salute from those in attendance.

In his place, Theobald, Richter and Seider tossed the commemorative wreath over the Stafford Street bridge into the Mullet River to close the ceremony, followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”




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